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  • Help with Basics of GTD

    I have attempted to start GTD several times and have had limited success. I've read the book and perused the message boards but haven't found what I am looking for, hopefully you can help. I am having no problem with the collecting portion but have some problems with the remainder of the system. Specifically where to put the lists of NA and the mechanics of dealing with the NA lists. I've tried using Outlook and Exel based lists but I don't have access to them 24/7. I've thought about using my Blackberry but am hesitant to use any electronic method. I have tried the three ring binder, the 3x5 cards and am currently trying a Levenger notebook. My main problem with the paper systems is what to do once a task is completed. If I draw a line through them, then my list quickly becomes difficult to read. I hope that I am making too much out of this but I need some assistance on the basics of the day to day maintenance of the system. Unfortunately nobody at work even knows what GTD is, therefore I have nobody I personally know that uses it. I am in the middle of nowhere and cannot attend a seminar without great difficulty. I am thinking of joining GTD connect. If anyone could give me some hints, help or encouragement; I would appreciate it.
    Thanks.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Engnr Joe View Post
    I have attempted to start GTD several times and have had limited success. I've read the book and perused the message boards but haven't found what I am looking for, hopefully you can help. I am having no problem with the collecting portion but have some problems with the remainder of the system. Specifically where to put the lists of NA and the mechanics of dealing with the NA lists. I've tried using Outlook and Exel based lists but I don't have access to them 24/7. I've thought about using my Blackberry but am hesitant to use any electronic method. I have tried the three ring binder, the 3x5 cards and am currently trying a Levenger notebook. My main problem with the paper systems is what to do once a task is completed. If I draw a line through them, then my list quickly becomes difficult to read. I hope that I am making too much out of this but I need some assistance on the basics of the day to day maintenance of the system. Unfortunately nobody at work even knows what GTD is, therefore I have nobody I personally know that uses it. I am in the middle of nowhere and cannot attend a seminar without great difficulty. I am thinking of joining GTD connect. If anyone could give me some hints, help or encouragement; I would appreciate it.
    Thanks.
    What works for me is to use a print out of an excel spreadsheet each week. During my weekly review, I update my lists, print them out, and put them in my dayplanner. Throughout the week, I add items to the various lists, mark through things as they're completed, etc. At the end of the week, I open up my excel file, delete the items that are completed, and add the ones that I've added and not completed in the previous week. My lists don't get too messy in a week, and I have a clean set of lists once a week.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Engnr Joe View Post
      My main problem with the paper systems is what to do once a task is completed. If I draw a line through them, then my list quickly becomes difficult to read.
      What I do is give every NA its own sheet of paper. When it's complete, I toss the whole thing. Might be worth giving a try.


      Cheers,
      Roger

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      • #4
        This seems to be a consistent problem with GTD, and perhaps - in my opinion - one that is least addressed in the book.

        I, like you, don't like using written lists because things become obscured when you start crossing things off. Something I do if I HAVE to use a written list is: when an item remains amid a load of done ones, I circle it so I can see it's still there.

        Can I ask, why are you hesitant to use an electronic method?

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        • #5
          I don't want to use an electronic version primarily because of the difficulty of inputting data into the blackberry. My workplace makes it very difficult to move data back and forth between my work PC and my home PC. This makes it difficult to have one system which covers both home and work. I don't want to be forced into two systems. I like to keep things simple.

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          • #6
            While I am using an electronic calendar, I do use paper for my lists. I have been using forms available for free at the great site - http://www.diyplanner.com. These have check boxes that allow me to mark a next action complete without crossing through it.
            Last edited by PatinSC; 10-15-2009, 08:27 AM. Reason: left something out

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            • #7
              re: Paper-Based Notation Tips

              The best tips I've found on paper-based marking and notation are from Matthew Cornell. Check out his blog and search for posts on this. Really good stuff!

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              • #8
                I print paper lists from Excel and keep them on a clipboard. The leftmost column is a bunch of checkboxes. If I have completed an item, I check its box. If I change my mind about doing the item, I put an X in the box. It is less messy than crossing out the whole line, and it is easy to scan for open boxes.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by PatinSC View Post
                  While I am using an electronic calendar, I do use paper for my lists. I have been using forms available for free at the great site - http://www.diyplanner.com. These have check boxes that allow me to mark a next action complete without crossing through it.
                  I second PatinSC. I use these forms and I like the results in terms of clarity. I also use an outlook printed calendar, so I am completely paper based and very happy with it.

                  If you want to go digital, why don´t you use some software on a disk on key that you can connect to your pc at work/home?

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                  • #10
                    I print blank lists in Word with a checkbox at the start of each line. (I add a table, make the first column a checkbox, the second column a long line, the third column an @ sign where I can hand-write a context if relevant.)

                    I work with a lot of clients on getting an organizational system setup, and you're not alone in preferring a non-electronic option. Anecdotally, I find I get more done when I use a paper system than when I use software, because having to write an action down is a very different mental experience than typing it. Additionally, the prospect of having to rewrite the same task a number of times (because every 2-3 weeks I'll consolidate my pages of mostly complete actions into new pages) alone will often spur me to actually finish the task.

                    Good luck!

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                    • #11
                      My situation has changed recently allowing me to return to a fully electronic system on my PDA. However, I still carry a paper capture tool, either my notetaker wallet or my engineer's logbook within the office, so that I can quickly capture actions or notes for later review when I get back to my desk.

                      When I was paper based for my NAs I would use a highlighter to mark my completed tasks. This had the benefit of showing the tasks that weren't complete as un-highlighted rather than being lost in amongst a lot of crossed out tasks. I found it incredibly easy to do as I would just tick an action complete and then highlight all completed tasks the next time I was at my desk with the highlighter. I was using a small circa notebook for the job and just consolidated pages when they became too full.

                      The only weakness I found with the paper system was the inability to identify when a task was completed for my weekly review. The electronic system allows me to filter the tasks to make my review much quicker.

                      So far I have converted two other people in the office to GTD and almost everyone is aware of my system and my ubiquitous capture tools

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Engnr Joe View Post
                        I don't want to use an electronic version primarily because of the difficulty of inputting data into the blackberry. My workplace makes it very difficult to move data back and forth between my work PC and my home PC. This makes it difficult to have one system which covers both home and work. I don't want to be forced into two systems. I like to keep things simple.
                        I know I'm echoing several comments, but if technology creates resistance for you then don't use it to run your GTD system (at least not at first). For now, start with a basic paper system and add technology where it makes sense.

                        It's important to find an organizing system that you *love* to use and that works for you. There must be no resistance to using it.

                        Good luck.

                        -Luke

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                        • #13
                          Trouble Implementing GTD?

                          I think it's the rare person who can implement 100% of GTD or any other time management system.

                          If that's true, then it's probably better to ask "how can I make sure my system is meeting my needs?"

                          It's a tougher question to ask, but the answer can take someone from GTD to any other system that exists in search of possible add-ons, ideas, modifications, etc.

                          The reason that this might be better approach is that before encountering GTD we each had a system that worked to some degree (as defined by our habits at the time.) We found GTD, and made some improvements... but in the end, the system still belonged to us.

                          While it's tougher to think this way, I believe it produces better results, as it keeps the goals we have in mind in front of us, and reminds us that we are always working on our own habits, practices and rituals -- and don't need to pay too much attention to how closely we follow any particular system, as long as we are getting the results we want.

                          Hope this helps,

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